At first glance, the odds on Sunday’s 4:15 game in Philadelphia seem backwards. Peyton Manning-led Indianapolis (5-2) is a three-point underdog to a Philadelphia team with a worse record (4-3) and, really, no clear starting quarterback. Yes, yes, Michael Vick has been declared their starter, but a solid hit a couple of weeks back made that declaration moot. Vick will start this Sunday, however, and he and his ribs are supposedly “100 percent.” At least that’s what he says, anyway.
The odds seem less a reflection of Vick’s starting, though, and more a matter of the injuries the Colts are dealing with. Tight end Dallas Clark is out for the season, wide-out Austin Collie is questionable (hand), and running backs Joseph Addai and Mike Hart are doubtful (shoulder) and questionable (ankle), respectively. The iffy status designations for Addai and Hart seem key points. Thus far, Washington is the only team to have run more than it passed against the Eagles, and that strategy, as Jeff McLane points out, effectively rendered Philly’s pass rush useless. The Redskins won, 17-12. Not to be ignored as well is the fact that star Colts safety Bob Sanders will also be out Sunday with a biceps injury.
And yet, that will be Peyton Manning under center for Indianapolis, and Peyton Manning is the least sacked quarterback in NFL history (read, since they’ve kept the stat). The man just gets the ball out fast, often after a very bothersome audible adjustment at the line (or a bothersome fake audible) that leaves everybody on the other side of the line of scrimmage flat-footed. The overall result? In the 190 games he’s played in the NFL, Manning has been sacked only 222 times (in 6830 attempts) – 3.25% of the time he attempts to throw. Moreover, Manning will be throwing into an Eagles’ secondary that will include cornerback Dimitri Patterson in his first NFL start, and if that isn’t ugly enough by itself, rookie safety Nate Allen, who is by turns very good and very bad, will also be out there trying to figure out the best veteran QB in the league.
So, what’s the real story on this game? Some bettors’ advisors seem totally non-committal. Jimmy Boyd, for example, notes that the Colts are 13-2-1 against the last 16 spreads of three points or less and that Manning will have “old reliable” Reggie Wayne out there running pass-routes. On the other hand, Boyd doesn’t like Indianapolis’ chances to neutralize Michael Vick (6 TD passes, 0 INTs), and notes that Philly is a perfect 4-0 against the spread in their last four games. He also implies that the Eagles may not be ready after a bye week, but does call putting money on the Colts a wager on a “small upset.”
Way to jump on two horses at once and ride off in opposite directions, Jim.
Bet the Colts to at least cover.
Boyd, Jimmy. “Indianapolis Colts at Philadelphia Eagles NFL Picks.” Jimmy Boyd’s Locksmith Sports Picks. 6 November 2010.
McLane, Jeff. “Eagles D-line faces a big task.” The Philadelphia Inquirer 6 November 2010: E1.
McLane, Jeff. “Jackson returns – and will return.” The Philadelphia Inquirer 6 November 2010: E1.
“NFL Injury Report.” The Philadelphia Inquirer 6 November 2010: E4.